Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Don't pin hopes on midseason additions

The Philadelphia Phillies made it to the World Series largely on the shoulders of their midseason acquisition, Cliff Lee. Without him, they didn’t have the pitching to dominate the National League in the playoffs. However, prior to him, it is difficult to remember a recent big-time trade deadline acquisition that had such an enormous impact on the new team.

College basketball’s semester break is similar to the trade deadline in professional sports. It is usually the time that new players become eligible, whether as a result of transferring from another school, sitting out because of a suspension or academic ineligibility, or coming back from injury. Many of these new players receive plenty of hype and anticipation – and the majority of them disappoint. Of course, there are a few who make an immediate impact on their new team and help them in the postseason, but the majority are busts – there was a reason they left their former team or were suspended in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the major additions in the past week or so:

  • Ater Majok, Connecticut (newcomer): Two starts, totaling six points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
  • Jeff Robinson, Seton Hall (transfer from Memphis): Averaging 7.0 points and 3.5 rebounds in two games.
  • Keon Lawrence, Seton Hall (transfer from Missouri/return from suspension): He is shooting 4-for-11 from the field, averaging 8.0 points and 3.5 rebounds.
  • Reggie Redding, Villanova (return from suspension): In his first game back from suspension, he had 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocks.
  • Derrick Caracter, UTEP (transfer from Louisville and return from hiatus): Take out his debut against New Mexico State, and he is averaging 15.7 points and 11.7 rebounds. The Miners beat Oklahoma on Monday.
  • Michael Gerrity, USC (transfer from Charlotte): In two games, he is averaging 36.0 minutes, 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. He led the Trojans to a win over Tennessee.
  • Gilbert Brown, Pittsburgh (return from suspension): He had 11 points in his debut.
  • John Riek, Mississippi State (newcomer): He has played one minute in two games.
  • Jai Lucas, Texas (transfer from Florida): He is averaging 2.5 points in 9.0 minutes in his first two games. Fighting for minutes behind Dogus Balbay and J'Covan Brown.
  • Ibrahima Thomas, Oklahoma State (transfer): Played only 11 minutes in his first two games combined, but started the last two and averaged 10.5 points and 4.5 boards.
  • Jermaine Dixon, Pittsburgh (return from injury): He only had nine points in his first three games, but broke out in his fourth game, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists.
  • Dino Gregory, Maryland (return from suspension): He immediately started his first two games, averaging 4.0 points and 3.0 rebounds.
  • Brady Morningstar, Kansas (return from suspension): Averaging 4.5 points and 5.0 assists in two games.
  • Jeff Withey, Kansas (transfer from Arizona): Has not played a minute yet.

Obviously, this is a very small sample size and many of these players are still getting into game shape and becoming used to how their systems are being implemented in an actual game. However, how many of these players really made an immediate impact on their new teams? Redding, Caracter and Gerrity? Maybe Brown, Thomas and Dixon? Lucas and Majok might have been the most hyped out of any of these additions, and they have done next-to-nothing.

Caracter might be the key to UTEP contending in Conference-USA, while Gerrity is clearly making a huge difference at USC. Outside of those two, is anyone going to be counted on to carry the team to wins? Redding and Morningstar add defense to their particular teams, and Dixon and Brown will provide options for Pitt, but none are making Cliff Lee-esque impacts.

Like I said, it is a small sample size and it is still very early to judge what sort of impact these players will have on their new teams, but the bottom line remains the same: semester break additions – like their trade deadline counterparts in professional sports – are, more often than not, overhyped disappointments that don’t make a noticeable impact as the season progresses.



  2. Gerrity made a stop at Charlotte before going to USC.